By Jon Garrett
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE If the broad smile that graced head coach Jack Welch's face during most of Monday's three hour spring football practice is any indication, then the Bulldawgs defense of their District 13-5A title is coming along pretty smoothly for a squad which lost a 1,000-plus yard rusher and two all-state linemen following the 2003-04 campaign.
"Things are going well," Welch said. "We're not where we want to be right now. We lost a lot of good players off last year's team and we have not jelled together at this point."
Led by a virtual phalanx of coaches from all levels of CCISD and joined by players from the team's freshman and junior varsity squads, the Dawgs' varsity looked crisp, hungry and competitive in a series of drills that included 7-on-7, team defense and team offense.
Starting running back Donald Buckram was held out of many of the drills because of a commitment to the state track meet this weekend, but quarterback Brent Garner and his core of young receivers seemed to be developing a feel for each other, and both the offensive and defensive lines, which were stripped in the offseason by the loss of the excellent senior class, seemed to be developing on schedule.
"This is a major week for us," Welch said highlighting the importance of continued improvement in this week's practices. "Next week is more for polish."
With their first major scrimmage coming up Friday at 8 a.m. at Bulldawg Stadium Welch was pleased with the way things were progressing, and cited some examples of players stepping up to fill gaps.
"We're looking at James Porter on both the offensive and defensive line and Alphonso Powell at cornerback and receiver," he said citing a tradition of two-way players at the school. "We're looking at Darrell Armstead (who also receives) as a running back for depth... losing (Jonathan) Woods was a major loss. He was really a quality back."
Welch did express come concern for the team's offensive line. While coaches hope Brian Jones will step up at fullback to give Buckram some cushion, their was a clear concern with getting a quality first-line of protection in place for the duo and Garner.
"Our offensive line is our concern," Welch said. "We've got to get that formed together."
One early down note was an injury to Logan Brock. Battling for a spot as the starting tight end, Brock broke his fibula at the growth plate on what Welch described as an "excellent block." The good news is that Brock will heal without surgery and should be ready to go in about six weeks.
The Dawgs still have plenty of time to address those issues this spring. Practices will continue through May 20, culminating with the sixth annual Bulldawg Reunion and spring game.
Statistic of the Week 5, the number of years that have passed since Copperas Cove last had a medalist at the state track meet. In 2000, the Bulldawgs were runner-up in the 400-meter relay and placed third as a team.
Contact Jon Garrett at email@example.com